ISLAMABAD: Despite India’s opposition, Pakistan has received the geographical indicator (GI) tag for its Basmati rice, paving the way for creating a local registry for this particular strain of rice and making a case in the world markets for its protection as a Pakistani product, the Rice Exporters’ Association of Pakistan (REAP) said on Thursday, adding that they received the tag on January 26, 2021.
India has applied for an exclusive GI tag to Indian-origin Basmati rice with the European Union’s Council on Quality Schemes for Agricultural and Foodstuffs. The application was published in an official EU journal on September 11, 2020, after clearing internal evaluations.
Confirming the development, Abdul Razak Dawood, Prime Minister Imran Khan’s adviser on commerce and investment, tweeted: “I am glad to inform that Pakistan has registered Basmati rice as GI under the GI Act 2020. Under this Act, a GI registry has been formed, which will register the GI and maintain basic record of properties and authorised users.”
Dawood added: “This will provide protection to our products against misuse or imitation, hence, will guarantee that their share in the international market is protected.”
Since Basmati rice fetches higher prices in the international markets, India had attempted to block Pakistan’s trade in the EU by declaring that its Basmati was the geographically original one. Pakistan had challenged the claim and, by registering its own GI for Basmati, it would now claim the same protection for its Basmati in the EU as India.
According to Pakistan’s rice exporters, India currently has a larger Basmati rice share of around 65% in the EU whereas Pakistan has a 35% share. Pakistan’s total rice exports in 2020 stood at $2.2 billion.
GI Committee convener Samiullah Naeem said that the fresh development would open new avenues for Pakistan’s Basmati rice in other markets as well. “This is the first Pakistani product which has been registered under the GI tag and we can now claim and market our products in global markets,” he said.
“We are now hopeful that we can increase the reach of local Basmati in export markets and believe that the government will create more opportunities to enhance our export revenue from rice,” Naeem added.